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Fans Choice: 20 Favorite Songs of Kate Bush

by Rick Henry 2 months ago in song reviews · updated 2 months ago
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The songs the diehard fans love!!!

I have long been a Kate Bush fan. She first came to my attention in the fall of 1980. I was, as per usual, visiting my friends that worked at Licorice Pizza Music Store #20. One of the employees, I forget who it was, put Never for Ever, Kate's newest album at the time, onto the turntable. Right from the first song, "Babooshka," I was sold.

Then, I found out that Pink Floyd guitarist, singer, songwriter David Gilmour was instrumental in getting Bush signed to EMI Records; there was no turning back. Being A diehard Pink Floyd fan this really made me pay attention to Kate Bush. Gilmour received an early demo while Bush was attending Catholic school. He was impressed with the demo and helped Bush record a professional demo which landed her a recording contract with EMI/ Harvest. The same company Pink Floyd had been associated with at the time.

This list is 100% the choice of the fans. I polled more than 600 diehard Kate Bush fans and the results are as follows in this article.

But before we get to the Fans' 20 Favorite Songs let's look at some of the other metrics from the poll.

There were five Kate Bush songs without a vote from the fans. (These are only songs from the main studio albums and does not include live songs, B-sides or remixes) : "Night Scented Stock" / "Walk Straight Down the Middle" / "Big Stripey Lie" / "Prelude" / "The Painter's Link"

A fan speaks: "Kate is from another world"

Consequently, six of her songs received only one mention/point: "Coffee Home ground" / "Violin" / "Why Should I Love You" / "Bertie" / "Architect's Dream" / "50 Words for Snow"

Kate Bush was known for naming entire sides of her albums as to create a suite of the songs with a common theme or concept. Three such sides were mentioned by the fans. "The Ninth Wave" (side two of Hounds of Love) / "A Sea of Honey" (disc one of Aerial) / "An Endless Sky of Honey" (disc two of the 2010 reissue of Aerial)

A fan speaks: "That was difficult narrowing it down to five favorite songs"

Two live songs were mentioned: "James and the Cold Gun" (1979 Kate Bush Live in Stage EP) (Note: The studio version of this song made it into the Bubbling Under List) / "Prelude" (Before the Dawn 2016)

Remixes were hugely popular during the 1980s and Kate Bush released her share. Three remixes were mentioned by the fans: "The Big Sky" (Meteorologist Mix) / "Cloudbusting" (The Organon Re-mix) / "Experiment IV" (12" mix)

A fan speaks: "To be honest I absolutely love all her songs!!!"

Kate Bush is the ultimate artist. She is known for writing (or co-writing) all her songs. Although fans did mention four songs that were not written by Kate.: "Lord of the Reedy River" (written by Donovan Leitch) (1981) / "Don't Give Up" (written by Peter Gabriel) (1986) (this also is the only duet mentioned) / "The Man I Love" (written by George and Ira Gershwin) (1994) / "Man Na h-Eireann (written by Sean O Riads and Peadar O Doirnin)

Director's Cut is a compilation album, of sorts, which contains no new material, consisting of songs from her earlier albums The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993) which have been remixed and restructured, three of which were re-recorded completely. The album was released in 2011. Fans mentioned three tracks from this album among their favorites: "Never Be Mine" / "Deeper Understanding" / "And So Is Love"

Fans speak: "This lady is a genius"

Two fan favorites were released as singles only: "December Will Be Magic Again" (1980) / "Experiment IV" (1986)

Three oddities in Kate's discography were mentioned as favorites: "Humming" (aka Maybe) (1973)(presumably about David Bowie) / "While Davy Dozed" (aka Davy) (1976) / "Ken" (1990) (originally recorded for the comic strip film GLC: The Carnage Continues.

A fan speaks: "Feel it, I thought it was so naughty when I first heard it."

Finally, we get to the B-Sides. These are non-album B-Sides which were not released on any original Kate Bush studio albums. These I will rank by popularity: 10. "Passing Through the Air" / 9. "Lyra" / 8. "Warm and Soothing"/ 7. "You Want Alchemy" / 6. "Be Kind to My Mistakes" / 5. "Un Baiser d'enfant" 4. "Burning Bridge" 3. "Ne t'enfuis Pas" 2. Lord of the Reedy River 1. Under The Ivy

The studio albums… in order according to the Fans Choice song votes: 9. 50 Words for Snow (2011) / 8. Aerial (2005) / 7. The Red Shoes (1993) / 6. Lionheart (1978) / 5. Never for Ever (1980) / 4. The Dreaming (1982) / 3. The Sensual World (1989) / 2. The Kick Inside (1978) / 1. Hounds of Love (1985)

A fan speaks: "All of them. There's not a Kate Bush song that I don't love!!!"

A few notes from Rick Henry before moving on… Although the poll I conducted was a poll for favorite songs. Several fans mentioned The Dreaming as being their favorite album. None of the other albums received a mention throughout the poll. / I am surprised how low "King of the Mountain" ranked on this list, I was certain it would place in the Top 20. If I were to expand the Bubbling under list, it would be at #53. I was also expecting "Mother Stands for Comfort" to place higher - it ended up at #52.

We're almost there…

Now for the Bubbling Under List. (These are the songs that did not make it into the fans top 20 favorite Kate Bush songs): 50. There Goes a Tenner (1982) / 49. In Search of Peter Pan (1978) / 48. The Fog (1989) / 47. Rocket's Tail (1989) / 46. Rubberband Girl (1993) / 45. Under Ice (1985) / 44. The Wedding List (1980) / 43. December Will Be Magic Again (1980) / 42. The Morning Fog (1985) / 41. The Dreaming (1982) / 40. Pull Out the Pin (1982) / 39. The Red Shoes (1993) / 38. A Coral Room (2005) / 37. James and the Cold Gun (1978) / 36. Symphony in Blue (1978) / 35. Sunset (2005) / 34. Lily (1993) / 33. Oh, To Be In Love (1978) / 32. Houdini (1982) / 31. Love and Anger (1989) / 30. Delius (1980) / 29. Experiment IV (1986) / 28. Waking the Witch (1985) 27. Them Heavy People (1978) / 26. Hammer Horror (1978) / 25. Nocturn (2005) / 24. Jig of Life (1985) / 23. Oh, England My Lionheart (1978) / 22. Big Sky (1985) / 21. Never Be Mine (1989)

… And now for the Main Attraction…

Fans Choice: 20 Favorite Songs of Kate Bush

20. Moving (1978)

Parent Album: The Kick Inside / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A / Certifications: N/A

Notes: Kate wrote this song as a tribute to her mime/dance teacher Lindsay Kemp. Kemp was also a mentor to David Bowie a decade earlier. Bush says he taught her the meaning of movement. The song opens with a whale song sampled from Songs of the Humpback Whale, an LP including recordings of whale vocalizations made by Dr. Roger S. Payne.

19. Night of the Swallow (1982)

Parent Album: The Dreaming / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A / Certifications: N/A

Notes: This song was released as a single in Ireland only due to its Irish nature. It features many Irish instruments and musicians. These include members of the Irish groups Planxty and The Chieftains. It was the fifth single from the album The Dreaming and was released 14 months after the album.

18. Get Out If My House (1982)

Parent Album: The Dreaming / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Get Out of My House" takes on an interesting theme. It seems the human body (or mind) as a house. The house is a refuge for protecting what is on the inside - emotions, psyche, intelligence, mental stability. While negative forces try to enter as we grow, we learn how to protect and defend our house from these enemies. In the song the protagonist is denying entry of the antagonist: "No stranger's feet will enter me," "They come with their weather hanging 'round them. But can't knock my door down." The antagonist is begging to be let in: "Woman let me in." But she remains strong: "I will not let you in." I'm interesting part of lyric is how both the woman and the antagonists can change their Identity or physical makeup. Such as the woman changes herself into a bird while the antagonist changes into the wind. The bird flies but the wind can attempt to knock it off its course. Kate Bush has stated the song was based on Stephen King's novel The Shining.

17. And Dream of Sheep (1985)

Parent Album: Hounds of Love / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A / Certifications: N/A

Notes: The entire second side (or second half on CD) of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album is a conceptual production titled The Ninth Wave. It's about a person drifting alone in the sea overnight. "And Dream of Sheep" is the opening track. It's about a person that is alone and frightened in the water and they want to fall asleep in order to escape the situation. Yet it is not safe to sleep in the water for fear of drowning.

16. Sat in Your Lap (1982)

Parent Album: The Dreaming / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #11 UK, #3 France, #18 Ireland, #25 Italy, #30 Spain, #32 Netherlands, #93 Australia / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Sat in Your Lap" was the first single release from the 1982 album The Dreaming, although it was released 15 months before the album. In the music video you can see Lindsay Kemp's influence with each move she makes. Her movements are part mime, part modern dance, and part artistic expression. Her brother Paddy Bush and Preston Heyman provide the song's unique percussive work via bamboo sticks which are whirring through the air.

15. Under the Ivy (1985)

Parent Album: Non-Album B-Side / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Under the Ivy" was originally released as the B-Side of the mega-hit "Running Up That Hill" in its 1985 release.

14. Army Dreamers (1980)

Parent Album: Never for Ever / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #16 UK, #1 France, #2 Israel, #14 Ireland, #25 Netherlands / Certifications: N/A

Notes: This dark anti-war song is written from the perspective of a mother whose son joined the army and ended up being killed in a war. The song tracks his arrival back home in a tin box with four men in uniform to carry her little soldier home. She had a bunch of purple flowers to decorate her hero. Kate's vocal timing is exquisite and perfectly accentuates the songs ¾ waltz timing.

13. Moments of Pleasure (1993)

Parent Album: The Red Shoes / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #26 UK, #119 Australia / Certifications: N/A

Notes: Kate Bush sees this bittersweet song as a celebration of life in which she remembers the good times she's had with her loved ones that have now passed on.

12. Wow (1978)

Parent Album: Lionheart / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #14 UK, #1 France, #17 Ireland / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Wow" was the second single released from Kate's second album Lionheart. This was Kate's attempt at musically emulating the spacey Pink Floyd sound. Duncan Mackay's synthesizer is probably the greatest factor in achieving that sound.

11. The Sensual World (1989)

Parent Album: The Sensual World / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #12 UK, #4 Japan, #4 Poland, #6 Ireland, #11 Finland, #16 Italy, #17 Netherlands, #29 Germany, #31 Belgium, #44 Australia #44 Canada #81 France / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "The Sensual World" was originally supposed to be Molly Bloom's speech, from the end of Jim Joyce's novel Ulysses, set to music. But Bush was not able to get the rights from the Joyce estate, so she wrote her lyrics for the song. In 2011, the Joyce estate granted Bush a license to the material, and she re-recorded the song as "Flower of the Mountain", which was released in 2011's on the album Director's Cut. One of the prominent factors of the song is Davy Spillane's uilleann pipes (which is classified as a bagpipe). Spillane's pipes add a somewhat Celtic rock ambience to the song. The song made to #6 on the US Alternative Rock chart. The song also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance.

10. Hounds of Love (1985)

Parent Album: Hounds of Love / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #18 UK, #12 Ireland, #18 Poland, #68 Germany, #84 Canada / Certifications: N/A

Notes: The song "Hounds of Love" is about being afraid of love and literally running and hiding from it. Afraid of what might be. The hounds of love are hunting her down - but she's a coward. The opening line, "It's in the trees, it’s coming" is spoken by Maurice Denham an actor who played Reginald Beckwith in the 1957 film Night of the Demon, from which the spoken line is retrieved.

9. Hello Earth (1985)

Parent Album: Hounds of Love / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: N/A / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Hello Earth" is the second to last track on the album. It seems to be a sort of awakening after possibly having been on the brink of death. In previous songs, such as "And Dream of Sheep" you get the notion that Kate was losing consciousness after having been in the water for a while. With "Hello Earth" it seems she may be experiencing the moments leading back to consciousness. She speaks of storms that are starting to form. She's warning the sailors, lifesavers, cruisers, and fishermen to get out of the water. She's letting them know that she knows what's ahead by speaking of her experiences, "I was there at the birth. Out of the cloudburst. The head of the tempest." She's coming to an awareness by asking; "Why did I go?" The lines in German which translate to: "Deeper, deeper, Somewhere deep, Is there a light?" Further confirm that our main character is coming to an awareness and maybe soon she will be home.

8. Breathing (1980)

Parent Album: Never for Ever / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #16 UK, #1 France, #25 Belgium, #44 Netherlands / Certifications: N/A

Notes: This song is about a fetus that seems to be able to see or sense what is going on outside of her mother's womb. She speaks about the nuclear bomb and the destruction it can cause period She also mentions the breathing in and out of her mother's nicotine. In the music video Kate Bush portrays the fetus who by the end of the song is born to an earth that has been altered by a nuclear attack. This song has a few Pink Floyd connections. Roy Harper does the backing vocals on "Breathing," he also sang the lead on Pink Floyd's 1975 hit "Have a Cigar." Kate Bush has stated the song is inspired by Pink Floyd's mega-successful album The Wall, in particular Side Three. Side Three includes the songs "Hey You" and "Comfortably Numb.”

7. Babooshka (1980)

Parent Album: Never for Ever / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #5 UK, #2 Australia, #3 France, #4 Norway, #5 Ireland, #5 Israel, #6 Italy, #8 New Zealand, #12 South Africa, #14 Germany, #15 Holland, #24 Netherlands / Certifications: Silver UK, Gold France

Notes: "Babooshka" is one of Kate Bush's biggest career hits having made it into the Top 10 throughout several countries around the world. The song is about a wife testing her husband's loyalty. She sends notes to her husband pretending to be a younger woman using the assumed name of Babooshka. Her husband sets up a meeting with Babooshka. When he meets Babooshka he gets this feeling like they've met before.

6. Suspended in Gaffa (1982)

Parent Album: The Dreaming / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #33 France, #38 Spain, #50 Netherlands / Certifications: N/A

Notes: "Suspended in Gaffa" was released in Europe and Australia but not in the UK. This is the fans' favorite song from the album The Dreaming. Three other songs from The Dreaming made it onto this Top 20 list at #19, #18, #16. I would have liked to see some of these songs place a little higher on this list as The Dreaming is my favorite Kate Bush album.

5. The Man with The Child in His Eyes (1978)

Parent Album: The Kick Inside / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #6 UK, # 85 US, #3 Ireland, #22 Australia, #23 Netherlands #36 New Zealand / Certifications: N/A

Notes: The recording that appears on The Kick Inside was recorded in 1975 when Kate was only 16 under the guidance and production skills of David Gilmour. Kate wrote "The Man With The Child In His Eyes at the young age of 13. This was her first song to make it onto Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart in the US peaking at #85. This is one of three Kate Bush songs to chart on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. She also appeared on the US chart as a duet with Peter Gabriel on the 1986 song "Don't Give Up."

4. This Woman's Work (1989)

Parent Album: The Sensual World / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #25 UK, #20 Ireland, #89 Australia / Certifications: Gold UK

Notes: In the digital age "This Woman's Work" has come back several times and has charted on the UK Download chart including reaching #3 in 2005 and most recently #27 in 2022. The song has also made it to #19 on the US Alternative Digital Song Sales chart in 2021. The following is a list of films and TV Shows in which the song has been used resulting in chart action. 2005 TV film Walk Away and I Stumble (reaches #3 on the UK Download chart). 2008 British TV Sitcom Extras (reaches #76 on the UK Singles Chart), 2012 Performed by a contestant on Britain's Got Talent (re-charts at #63 on the UK Singles chart). 2021 featured in the BBC1 drama The Pact (charts at #42 on the UK Download chart).

3. Cloudbusting (1985)

Parent Album: Hounds of Love / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #20 UK, #13 Ireland, #13 Netherlands, #16 Belgium, #20 Germany, #30 France / Certifications: Silver UK

Notes: In 2019 "Cloudbusting" made an appearance on the US Alternative Digital Song Sales chart reaching #22. In 2022 it made it to #56 on the UK Download chart. This song is based on the cloudbusting adventures of Austrian medical doctor and a psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich and his son Peter. The two attempted a rain making process called cloudbusting. The elder Reich built a machine called a cloudbuster which is constructed of long metal pipes of which one end is placed in water. The pipes would then be aimed into areas of the sky to draw energy through the ground into the sky like a lightning rod, causing the formation of clouds and rain.

2. Wuthering Heights (1978)

Parent Album: The Kick Inside / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: #1 UK, #1 Australia, #1 France, #1 Ireland, #1 Italy, #1 New Zealand, #1 Portugal, #3 Netherlands, #3 South Africa, #4 Denmark, #4 Finland, #6 Belgium, #6 Sweden, #7 Norway, #7 Poland, #8 Switzerland, #10 Spain, #11 Germany, #17 Austria / Certifications: Platinum UK, Platinum New Zealand, Gold Australia, Gold Brazil

Notes: "Wuthering Heights" is a groundbreaking song for Kate Bush for several reasons. The song was her debut single, and it shot right up to #1 in the UK and it stayed there for 4 weeks. Kate Bush became the first female artist in the United Kingdom to achieve a #1 single with a self-penned song. The song was also her first to appear on any chart in the US reaching #108 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart. It is also the first of two Kate Bush songs to be certified Platinum in New Zealand and the UK.

According to the website, Kate Bush Encyclopedia, Kate wrote the song at age 18, within a few hours late at night on March 5, 1977. She was inspired after seeing the last ten minutes of the 1967 BBC mini-series based on the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights written by Emily Brontë. Soon after she read the book and discovered that she shared her birthday with Brontë.

1. Running Up That Hill (1985)

Parent Album: Hounds Of Love / Written by: Kate Bush / Chart Positions: See below in Notes / Certifications: 2xPlatinum UK, Platinum New Zealand

Notes: "Running Up That Hill" is not only the fans favorite but it is also Kate Bush's biggest hit single.

The chart positions for three different time periods will be tracked here in the notes.

The single as titled "Running Up That Hill" was originally released in 1985 and charted as follows: #3 UK, #3 Germany, #4 Ireland, #4 Canada, #6 Australia, #6 Belgium, #6 Netherlands, #7 France, #10 Switzerland, #21 Austria, #22 Poland, #26 New Zealand, #30 US. "Running Up That Hill" is Kate Bush's first and only song to make it to the Top 40 in the US.

In 2012 Kate released a remixed version of "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" using the backing track of the extended version of the 1985 12-inch single. The track was pitched down a semitone to fit Bush's then current lower vocal range as she re-recorded her lead vocal. The picture sleeve for the single depicts the lettering RUTH which is an acronym for "Running Up That Hill." The acronym is commonly used by diehard fans when discussing the song on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. The 2012 remix charted at #6 in the UK and #22 in Ireland.

Now, this brings us to May 2022. Kate Bush was 63 years old at the time. She's experienced a highly successful career which started in July 1976 at age 18 when she was signed to EMI Records. 46 years later and pretty much by fate 2022 ends up being Kate Bush's most successful year in music. The song "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) was contracted to be featured in the fourth season of the Netflix series Stranger Things. Bush happened to be a fan of the show, so she agreed to license her song for use in the show. What happened next was amazing. After the May 27, 2022, premiere of Stranger Things, "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) experienced an overwhelming spike in streams on Spotify, with the song rising by 9,900% in US plays from May 27 to May 30. Within a week the song netted millions of streams and was selling more than 5,000 copies a day. In the first month after the Stranger Things premiere Kate Bush has made more than $2.3 million from "Running Up That Hill." But this success went far beyond just the US. The song began experiencing similar success throughout the entire world. This in turn affected her entire catalog of music. Her full catalog has received a 1,600% uptick in total global streams since the Stranger Things premiere. The following are the 2022 chart stats for "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)":

#1UK, #1 Australia, #1 Belgium, #1 Ireland, #1 Lithuania, #1 Luxembourg, #1 New Zealand, #1 Sweden, #1 Switzerland, #2 Canada, #2 Czechoslovakia, #2 Greece, #2 Hungary, #2 Iceland, #2 Latvia, #2 Slovakia, #3 Austria, #3 France, #3 Germany, #3 Netherlands, #3 US, #4 Croatia, #4 Portugal, #5 Singapore, #6 Denmark, #6 Finland, #6 South Africa, #8 Malaysia, #8 Poland, #10 India, #11 Philippines, #18 Italy, #18 Japan, #20 Mexico, #20 Romania, #21 Brazil, #40 Vietnam, #47 Argentina, #48 Spain

Thank you for checking out this article!!! I hope you enjoyed it.

You may also want to check out: "25 Greatest Songs of Sade"

Have a great day!!!

song reviews

About the author

Rick Henry

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/vocalplusassist

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Comments (8)

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  • Dawn Salois2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • FIFE2 months ago

    A joy to read. Kate Bush forever!!

  • Kendall Defoe2 months ago

    Interesting...although I still think WH should have been number one. And I will check out that Sade list.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!!💕

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    This was really well done. I can also see that a lot of work went into this. Congrats on the top story.

  • Wow a lot of work when into this. The poll, the data compilation, the research amd everything else. You did a fantastic job on this!

  • Excellent as always Rick, though I have a feeling that "Running Up That Hill" was swelled by its inclusion in "Stranger Things", my own fave is "Cloudbusting" and fave album "The Hounds of Love" and there is a recording of me singing "Wuthering Heights" here https://youtu.be/zZW7nSLYA0k

  • Blake O'Connor2 months ago

    Great playlist!

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